My goat has been gotten

My personality is irritating to a certain other personality in the world. The bossy, over-organized and too-proud of it woman. It happens. The world needs spontaneously creative, messy people with the last-bite-of-toaster-waffle-still-in-her-hair and it needs people like her. But not together. Together is a stretch and a bad one.


Zillow pieces by me

Zillow – Twinsburg Bulletin | Twinsburg, Reminderville, OH


By Christina Sturgis Cleveland has once again landed on a Sturgis The region that boldly claims to have spawned youth-oriented rock and… More. Zillow; 0.

LA Rents Highest in Nation

LA Rents Highest in Nation

Los Angeles Daily News

                                            Posted:                                         07/20/13, 9:00 PM PDT|

By Christina Sturgis

Residents in the Los Angeles area are paying some of the highest rents in the nation and it’s pushing some toward homelessness, according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Renters in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, which includes Long Beach and Santa Ana, pay $1,214 per month, the fifth highest median gross rent in the nation. The census bureau describes renters paying 35 percent or more of income in rent as burdened, and this proportion is used to determine eligibility for federal housing programs. The percentage of households burdened by high rents rose from 47.27 to 50.69 from 2009 to 2011, according to the census.

The United Way of Greater Los Angeles states that many of these households are living one crisis away from the brink of homelessness.

The highest rent nationwide was also in California – $1,460 in the San Jose metropolitan area. The area includes Sunnyvale and Santa Clara and is among the 50 most populated metropolitan areas. Honolulu came in second with $1,419.

The gross median rent nationwide decreased slightly, from $880 to $871, during the surveys conducted in 2009 and again in 2011, according to the data.

The gross median rent declined during the survey period in O-Town, which includes Kissimmee, going from $1,038 in 2009 to $970 in 2011, a decrease of 68 dollars. The sharpest drop in gross median rent was $130 in Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., from $1,038 to $970. The lowest median gross rents nationwide were in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls and Pittsburgh areas, $682 in both.

When all the metropolitan areas were considered and not just the 50 largest, the lowest gross median rents were $502 in the Wheeling, W.Va., and Ohio area, and $536 in the Johnstown, Pa., area.

Gross rent was defined in the Rental Housing Market Condition Measures report as the amount of rent plus the estimated monthly cost of utilities. The report compared rents in U.S. metropolitan areas from 2009 to 2011.

For Zillow Content

West Monroe students LEAP high

By Christina Sturgis

The Ouachita Parish School System, which includes the West Monroe schools, ranked 15th statewide on the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program, a standardized test for students in grades 3 through 8, according to the latest data available from the state Department of Education.

The percentage of students scoring at the basic level or above, meaning they will progress to the next grade, was 76 percent, a single point lower than last year, and significantly better than the statewide average of 69 percent.

West Monroe students scored significantly higher than students in the City of Monroe School District, a municipality across the Ouachita River sometimes known as West Monroe’s twin city. That district placed 47th among the state’s 72 districts. In the City of Monroe, 63 percent of students scored well enough to progress to the next grade.

Louisiana has an overall educational improvement program called Louisiana Believes, which emphasizes early intervention, testing, accountability and high expectations. Education Week gave the state a 97.2 percent score on standards, assessments and school accountability in its annual report card, where the state placed 15, just under Texas, which is striving for better achievement through early intervention, testing, accountability and high expectations.

In the city known as Silicon Hills, however, Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently signed a law that reduces state-mandated standardized testing. A major voice calling for reform is an organization called Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, which was founded by parent and lawyer Dineen Majcher.

“These high-stakes tests create unnecessary barrier to graduation, take valuable classroom instruction time, and divert significant public funding to a for-profit testing company instead of the classroom,” according to TAMSA.

For the reduction in testing to occur, the state will have to obtain a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind mandate.

The empowerment of Eldon

Eldon wants to be liked. He is a slightly chubby 7-year-old who greets the world with a smile and a request for a playdate. His companions enjoy how upset it makes Eldon to be rejected, turned down. One of them keeps hinting about a wonderful birthday party he will be having at his home. Eldon will not be invited. Another companion rejects his requests for a playdate, adding, “If you came to my door, I would slam it in your face!”

Lexington named a best college city

Lexington named a best college city

Zillow Published: February 12, 2014 3:09PM

By Christina Sturgis

High school seniors and parents in Frankfort don’t have to look at out-of-state colleges for an expensive, quality education. When investigating possible college towns far and wide, the American Institute of Economic Research recommends you check out one that is only 30 miles away.

The Lexington-Fayette Metropolitan Statistical Area is ranked ninth in the organization’s annual rankings of Top 75 Best College Cities and Towns, a look at 20 small metropolitan areas. The analysts said the Lexington area deserves consideration as a place for higher learning because of its favorable cost of living and retention of recent graduates – “brain gain” as opposed to “brain drain.”

Specifically, a two-bedroom apartment in the Lexington area costs $700 per month, while the same apartment was $1,068 per month in Boulder, Colo., ranked No. 1 overall of the small metros. The low cost of housing makes Lexington an attractive place to settle down; the median sale price of a home in Lexington is $149,900, compared to $209,200 nationwide, according to Zillow.

This boosts Lexington’s performance in the category of graduate retention, where it ranked No. 3. The overall top-ranked small metro, Boulder, came in 11th and second-place Ann Arbor came in 15th for retention of graduates.
Kentucky’s Cabinet for Economic Development also touts the state’s schools and colleges.

“Our educational partners work closely to train workers in industry-specific skill sets and our ability to provide the flexibility and customization that companies require sets us apart,” according to a statement from the cabinet.

Cincinnati, a much larger metropolitan area about 80 miles north of Lexington, is ranked 15th on AIER’s ranking of mid-sized college towns. The Queen City has affordable housing – a two-bedroom apartment averages $740 per month – but ranks 14th out of 20 in retention of graduates.

Cleveland rank on ‘worst’ list has silver lining

Cleveland rank on ‘worst’ list has silver lining

By Christina Sturgis

Cleveland has once again landed on a less-than-desirable list – the EscapeHere’s list of 10 worst cities to visit in the nation – but the description isn’t entirely disparaging.

Once known for the rise of Standard Oil and John D. Rockefeller, the city on the southern shore of Lake Erie has been plagued by poverty and crime in recent years. EscapeHere states the city has lost 71,000 residents in the past five years. These factors have put Cleveland on the Forbes list of miserable cities and PolicyMic’s list of 10 deadliest cities, citing a murder rate of 24.6 for 100,000 residents.

EscapeHere, however, tempers its criticism with a nod to Cleveland’s artistic and cultural institutions, including the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra, often cited as one of the “Big Five” among the nation’s orchestras. The Museum of Art, which opened in 1916, is 25th on a list of 30 “must-see” art museums compiled by The Art Career Project. The museum, known worldwide for the depth and breadth of its collection, only charges admission only for special exhibits.

In addition to those early 20th century institutions, EscapeHere notes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in Cleveland, and the city is gaining a reputation as a Mecca for rap and hip hop artists. The Rock Hall opened in September 1995 and has drawn more than 8 million visitors and had a $1.7 billion economic impact. Organizers say the recent Annual Ohio Hip-Hop Awards drew about 400 people to the city.

Cleveland is fourth on the worst cities to visit list, after Detroit, St. Louis and Reno, but before Chicago, Camden, N.J.; Memphis; New Haven, Conn.; Stockton and Oakland, Calif.; take the ninth and 10th places, respectively. Writer Stuart Smith pointed out that the Motor City, the only major city in the United States to file for bankruptcy, is attempting revitalization.